Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Not sure if I'll make it to Utah for Xterra Nationals this weekend.  My car is in the shop and was supposed to be fixed last week but they ordered to wrong part and the right one didn't arrive before the flooding began.  And they still don't have it because it's in Fort Collins which was heavily effected by the floods.  Supposed to get it today and get my car fixed by mid-day tomorrow but I'm not sure I want to drive 7 1/2 hours to Ogden for 2 1/2 days since we'd leave on Monday.  We were planning on leaving on Tuesday and making a little vacation out of the trip, it's been years since Jonny's had a vacation.  Also pre-riding the course is out of the question.  Then there's the matter of my lack of training the past 2 weeks.  Between Cody and the flooding my training has barely been a blip on my radar.  I've gotten out for a few short runs and a couple of swims, no biking at all, no hills at all.  I suppose it could be an experiment in racing while over-tapered which would provide some good training information.  I'd had a goal to break 5 hours (did it in 5 hours 19 minutes last year) with a crazy super stretch unrealistic secret goal of breaking 4:30 or maybe 4:40.  I'd have to let those go and be o.k. with it.  I haven't even been thinking about the race at all beyond the logistics of trying to get there and deal with the house and car.  Maybe that's a good thing, I don't know. 

It's not a good sign when the insurance agent shows up at your house and says, 'Wow, this is the worst street I've seen so far in Boulder.'  He was probably referring to the elementary school 2 blocks away.  It's drained now in this photo taken in the evening but in the afternoon all those muddy areas were covered in 2' of water.

And it's clear he never made it down Topaz St.  This was another area that Four Mile Creek blew through and it was shown on the news a lot, fast moving waist high water covering the street.

Four Mile Creek looks so innocent now but still flowing strongly considering it's a whole week later.

Topaz St., or what's left of it

And this is after several days of clean up by volunteers.  It's not a crucial street to anybody but the people who live on it which is maybe a dozen or so houses, maybe more.  There's another through street a block over that was unaffected so the neighborhood isn't cut off.  Still, it's impressive to see what the force of nature is capable of.

1 2 3, awwww

Deer are common in that neighborhood, these guys aren't displaced.

Ah well, better get back to the mud pit in the garage and driveway.  Looks a lot better but not quite there yet.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Do Not Ask Me How My Morning Is Going

I think the Sprint guy regretted asking me how my morning was going.  Because so far this morning I had more water flooding my crawlspace and the sump pump breaking and smoke filling my crawlspace and my car still in the shop so I can't get a new one right away and mud being too wet and sink-y for the water draining guys to set up their fans and de-humidifiers to dry out my crawlspace and oh yes my friggn' cell phone doesn't work because the stupid cell signal boosting gizmo you gave me is broken and you are the third Sprint person I've had to explain this to because my cell phone keeps dropping the call because see above.  Which makes talking to the workmen and insurance people not so very easy.  And I had someone from masters agree to come pick me up to go to a workout because I am ridiculously stir crazy and would like just one blessed hour where I don't have to think about flood stuff and the water draining guys were an hour late and arrived about 3 minutes before she did which was just about the time they gave me the news about the broken sump pump and smoke in the crawl space.  And of course dogs going completely off their heads because  - Lady In House!  Work Guy On Deck!  Work Guy In House!  Work Guy In Bright Orange Hazard Jumpsuit Disappearing Into Floor!  Must Alert Entire Neighborhood!!!  In case it isn't obvious I told my swim buddy to go on without me.  I felt bad having her come here to get me but I had no idea those guys would be so late.  Apparently there is horrific traffic on the roads that are open and that's why they were late.  Oh yes, and my idiot asshat neighbors set their sump pump hose to drain in my driveway so now I have an even bigger pond and can't really deal with the 7-8" of gravel/mud on my driveway.

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not really.  I am so so lucky in many regards.  First off I had friends to stay with who could take us with our dogs and who lived in a safe place.  Because Wednesday night/Thursday morning - the first storm surge - was a little scary.  We got a reverse 911 call to evacuate at around 1:00 in the morning but the trouble was there was no way to evacuate and no where to evacuate to.  This is the high ground in my neighborhood and as you can see from the mudslide or 'scarps' it was not safe to be on that hillside.

There was 1' of water in my driveway, another 7-8" in my garage, my car was going nowhere.  And even if I could have gotten out the street outside my house was flooded with shin deep water in places, probably deeper in others.  And I had to wade through water above my knees in my front yard to even get to my street.

Water line along fence in my front yard

And I had a fast moving 7-8" deep river covering my back yard.  The flood lines don't look that impressive but it was unnerving to open the back door and see a river approaching.  It came close to the door but thankfully no water came in the house.

Was even deeper on the side of the house that faces the street.  Looks like at least 14".

In the morning I noticed that the neighbor's yard was still a lake (ours had drained) and since our yard drains into theirs and it was raining with more storm surges predicted and we had some friends offer us a place to stay I did the math and decided I didn't want to spend another night.  I was sure we wouldn't be so lucky again what with all the water everywhere and nowhere for it to go and no let up in the rain.  We waited for a lull in the rain and got out.  And we were lucky to get out, so many roads and intersections in my neighborhood were flooded and/or covered in debris.  My street was blocked off at both ends, hazard tape outside my house, but they let us through, told us which roads were o.k. and as soon as we got out of North Boulder were fine all the way to our friend's house.

If it sounds like I'm complaining I'm not.  I came home to the miracle of a dry house.  There had been 2' of water in the crawlspace but it was all drained when we got home.  We did get another inch or so in the evening when it started raining again and we finally realized this project was over our heads and broke down and called in the professionals to pump out the water, spray disinfectant to help prevent mold and dry out the crawlspace.  You know you've made a good decision when you see the workmen putting on bright orange protective body suits and you were planning on wearing your old crappy jeans and a pair of rubber garden gloves.  I don't even own rubber boots because what do I need with rubber boots in a semi-arid climate?  In the 23 years I've lived here I've never noticed the lack of them.  The local hardware store had a sign that said, 'Rubber Boot Line'.  There was no line and barely any rubber boots by the time we got to town, I can only imagine what that frenzy was like.

Anyway given all the incredible devastation, loss of life, loss of infrastructure, people who are still cut off in Lyons and the mountains, people who are now homeless, I can only feel lucky that I got off so lightly.  Neighbors' houses on both sides of me and across the street were trashed, sewage flowing up from toilets, water on their first floors.  I'm not sure how I dodged that bullet but I feel so very very grateful and so very very bad for all the people still stranded, homeless, etc.  I'm in the flight pattern for the National Guard helicopters, the steady noise and vibration of them flying right over my house all day long yesterday was a constant reminder of how lucky I am and how tragic this is for so many.  The helicopters have been more sporadic today, not because the need has abated but rather because the cloud cover is preventing them from flying.

This is Linden St. yesterday.

 It looked a lot worse during the height of the flood, in fact you couldn't see it at all, it was a fast moving river.  If you were watching the news you probably saw it because it's the road the teenagers died on.  I wasn't being morbid coming here, it just happens to be in my neighborhood and we took the dog for his walk up there.  My friend lives at the top of this road and I'm a little worried about her.  She hasn't returned my calls from yesterday but it's possible that she still has no power and her cell is dead.  The street is still closed, it's a steep, winding road that has major damage, but she ran down and up it a couple of days ago so maybe she made her way out or is up there and is o.k.

I don't have any dramatic photos.  I'm not a fan of taking pictures of disasters as they're unfolding and I'm in the middle of them.  There was a lot of footage of my neighborhood on the news, Four Mile Creek runs through here and I could probably still get some good photos but can't be bothered, so many more dramatic photos and video floating around.  This is the best I can do, Four Mile Creek running very high a couple of days after the big storm surges.  At some point it was flowing over the road and they were showing this intersection on the news.

I think the road might be washed out at this bridge and it's a main road to get out of my neighborhood but again I'm not seriously going to bitch about this in light of the devastation around me.

All roads to the mountains are destroyed and closed to all traffic, cyclists, pedestrians, etc.  Going to be a long long time before we'll be able to get in the mountains again or before those folks will be able to get down.  I've seen some of the pictures and the extent of the damage is hard to fathom.  I've always resisted the temptation to live in the mountains due to the fire danger but I never in a million years imagined we'd have a flood bad enough to destroy every single road.  And poor Lyons, I love that town, we did consider living there though not near the river, that always made me nervous, and I never imagined it could get completely cut off.  I did framing inspections for a lot of the houses in a subdivision next to the river that is cut off from the main town.  There's only one bridge (now destroyed) over the river to that subdivision and every time I drove over it I thought about what would happen to these folks if the river flooded.  But I never imagined the whole town could get cut off.  It's surreal.

Ah well, the sun is finally, sort of out.  Tomorrow should be even warmer and drier.  One thing I have to say, I'm touched by all the people who have offered us help with clean up, places to stay, loans of pumps and fans, etc.  I've had people from the agility world, my masters swim group, even my boot camp instructor offered to come help pull up carpet if I needed it.  While I was shoveling gravel on Saturday I had one lady pull up in her car and offer me a free lunch and a family came around handing out home made cookies. And I loved this sign on my neighbor's lawn.

And I will never ever take for granted the ability to flush my toilet.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cody Baloney, July 1998-Sept. 2013

Had to let Cody go yesterday.  I was hoping he'd leave on his own terms when he was ready much as he lived his life but he stopped eating on Saturday and was barely drinking.  He started having breathing problems, probably a result of being dehydrated but who knows.  His life had turned into sleeping and pacing, sometimes anxious obsessive pacing, and nothing else and he'd gotten so weak.  Sunday night was terrible for him and I couldn't put him through another night of it so I had a vet come by on Monday.  It took me several hours to compose myself enough to even make the phone call.

He had a great life though and lived a couple months past his 15th birthday.  He was an awesome dog, crazy, one of a kind.  He traveled all over the place with use, to dog agility trials and vacations hiking in the mountains.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Grand Canyon

Sourdough Trail, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

He loved agility.  His first classes were at the local humane society.  He loved them so much that after a few weeks he refused to leave at the end of class.  The instructor had to carry him to the car for me after one class and I had to borrow a handful of pot roast from a classmate after another class to lure him out.  He was nervous trialing though and had a lot of ring stress issues.  I never knew what he was going to do, sometimes he was fast and brilliant and focused, other times not so much.  Probably his biggest accomplishment was taking 4th place at USDAA Nationals in the Grand Prix Quarter Finals earning his way to Semi-Finals.  It was a blazingly hot day and he never did well in the heat and he had to run in the main arena with a crowd and the weird big wooden jumps and equipment he'd never seen before.  But he held it together and had a nice clean run on a technical, tricky course.

He loved the snow.  He would have sudden crazy hyper fits in the snow at random times while we were walking or hiking.

I could go on for pages, he had such a long and rich life and he taught me so much about dogs and training and myself.  But this is all I can manage for now.

Bye Good Buddy.  I'll miss you always.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Aging Ungracefully or 'You're Never Too Old to Chase Your Dreams'

Quiet little voices creep into my head
I'm young again
I'm young again
I'm young again
I'm young again

'Quiet Little Voices' by We Were Promised Jetpacks

Who says you have to age gracefully?

94 year old track and field star Olga Kotelko.  She didn't do athletics until she was 70 when she took up slow pitch.  At 77 she took up track and field.

Battle of the 80+ year olds at Kona (Ironman Hawaii World Championships).  My favorite part is when France Cokan falls into the road barrier and breaks the 2x6 then gets up and keeps going without missing a beat.  Also the part where Lew Hollander explains that during the swim he has back pain that is the start of a kidney stone.  Oh and leading up to the race he had a hernia and he ends up with a bad abdominal cramp for the whole marathon.

That video is from 2011 but Lew went back in 2012 and won his age group at the Hawaii Ironman.  There were 2 other finishers in his age group.  At 82 Sister Madonna Buder became the oldest woman to complete an Ironman and qualify for Hawaii.  And for those unfamiliar with Ironman rules, there's a cutoff time of 17 hours in order to be considered a finisher so it's more than a matter of showing up and finishing.  Plenty that are far younger don't make the cut-off time.

Madonna Buder

Nobody knows for sure why these folks seem to defy age but the general consensus is the obvious - a combination of genetics, lifestyle and attitude.  Lew puts his success down to going anaerobic every day.  Even though he's competing in one of the ultimate distance/endurance events most of his training consists of shorter, higher intensity type workouts.

Lew's Longevity Secrets

And I have to agree with him.  Over the past couple of years I've arrived at the same conclusion for my own training.  Lots of long, slow to moderate endurance type workouts led to knee pain, back pain and various overuse injuries.  I still do long workouts on occasion but I do a lot more shorter, higher intensity type stuff these days - intervals of swimming running and biking, fartlek running and biking, plyometrics, strength training including a lot of core work.  Core work, core work and more core work.  I started going to a fitness bootcamp a year and a half ago and in the past year I've been going more regularly and  I can't believe the difference it's made in my triathlon racing, agility trialing and perhaps most importantly how I move through the world day to day and how I feel.  Yeah I've got back pain, knee pain, arthritis in my foot, etc. etc.  I've had knee surgery and a fairly invasive foot surgery.  Yet the strength training and plyometrics have given me a new lease on life, I barely notice my daily aches and pains.  I also eat well, vegetarian, lots of vegetables and whole foods, very little sugar or processed foods.  I'm convinced that sugar plays a huge role in aging though that's a whole 'nother post.  It's bad stuff though and as I've gotten older I'm not able to tolerate it as much.  You can go to Youtube and search for 'Robert Lustig' for plenty of science-y stuff on the evils of sugar.  Or google 'aging' and 'sugar' and 'insulin' and there is more info. than you probably want to know.

Oh yes and most recently in the news, 64 year old  Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage.  A shark cage.  She swam 110 miles in 53 hours.  In shark infested waters.  At 64.  Her first words when she got out of the water?  'We should never ever give up' and 'You're never too old to chase your dreams'.

I turned 49 a few weeks ago and I'm not going down without a fight.

As for the dogs I think genetics affects them far more than it affects us humans because they're more seriously inbred though certainly diet and lifestyle are important.  I also don't know if the same concepts about training in old age apply to them, ie would they be better off with shorter, high intensity type workouts and strength training or long 4 hour walks?  Certainly structure plays a huge part and dogs' structures are so varied.  In general for my own dogs I'm not a fan of agility for the seniors.  Once they start getting up there in years I retire them at the first sign of a physical issue.  The combination of running and sharp turns and jumping so many jumps in a row seems like a terrible idea for the senior set. Such a concussive sport for old joints.  So many better ways for keeping the seniors fit and engaged.

I took Strummer down to the beach for some swimming and running in the sand the other week.  He's 8 1/2 years old and the speed and intensity he had tearing down the beach was frightening.  He's not going down without a fight either.  I'm not sure when I'll retire him or how I'll decide if he happens to still be going strong into his double digits.  I may retire him while he's still got a decent amount of fight in him just to be on the safe side because it may be difficult to tell when his body is giving out because he has so much crazy and fight in him.

Retiring an agility dog is a difficult decision for some people for obvious reasons.  So much emotion tied up in that sport and that relationship.  For some people it may even mean giving up their only social group if they don't have other dogs to go to classes and compete with.  Some are chasing titles, trying to get that 'last leg'.  We all probably can think of a dog or two being dragged around the local agility ring that obviously does not want to be there or shouldn't be there and the handler can't or won't see it.  And I don't want to dwell too much on this because as we all know there's not much you can do about it.  Nobody is going to say anything.  I'm not going to say anything anyway.  Maybe a close friend will make some gentle remarks.  Maybe.  But for the most part all we do is cringe and look away and I'm not sure there is much else we can do.  I'll leave this sticky issue to my fellow bloggers and go watch that video of Diana Nyad again.

This post is part of Dog Agility Blog Action Day.  You can check out other posts on the subject of humans and dogs aging in agility at the Dog Agility Blog Action Day page.